In Humanities 112 we will look at art from the end of the Renaissance

In Humanities 112 we will look at art from the end of the Renaissance to the present, roughly 1500 to 2021.  We will see what art can tell us about the cultures and people of the time periods we cover.  What can art tell us about ourselves?

Humanities 112 isn’t about memorizing a bunch of facts from the past.  It is about asking questions of the past that will help us with the issues that we face today.  When people make art, they reveal deep things about themselves that, at the same time, reveal many things about the world in which they lived, the issues that they faced.

Each week we will look at a period of time and the painting, sculpture, architecture, music, poetry, and writing that gave voice to the culture of the time.  We will try to place the artwork within the framework of history, in a narrative, a story that makes sense.  There is a connection between what happened then and what is happening all around us now.  The better we understand how things came to be the way they are, the better we can make the world in which we live.

For the Week One Discussion

Introduction:  In three or four sentences, tell us a bit about yourself then write a couple of sentences in response to each of these questions.  What is your favorite work of art (painting, sculpture, architecture, music, poetry, or writing)?  Why do you like it?   Who created it?  How did they create it?  What technology did they use?  What does it tell us about America in January 2021?  If It comes from another time period, please answer the same questions.

Discussion:  Choose one work of art (painting, sculpture, architecture, music, poetry, or writing) from the many examples in the readings for this week in Chapters 21 and 22 or from the Powerpoint posted below (also posted in the Announcements in the Blackboard shell.  You can find good examples of music in the musical selections in the “Learn” section of Week One .  Write a couple of sentences in response to these questions.  What is the name of the work?  Why do you like it?   Where is it?  When was it created?  Who created it?  How did they create it?  What technology did they use?  What does it tell us about the world and culture in which it was created?

Each week in our Weekly Discussion, we ask you to select a work of art, architecture, music, or writing/performance art that you want to highlight.  In the first week, we ask you to do this with something you already know and like and it can come from any period including the here and now. Include an image of the art, architecture, or the title of the poem, work of writing or music you choose each week, followed by the name of who created it, the year it was created, and why you like it. In the following weeks, we will ask you to choose from the work being created during the time period we are studying that week. By Week Nine you will have all the examples you will need to complete Assignment Three by adding an introduction and a conclusion and some connective explanations.


This week’s readings mention several musical compositions. Here you’ll find background and a description of each—and the link to a video of the piece.

The following musical compositions are mentioned in Chapter 21:

  • Claudio Monteverdi: “Tu se’ Morta,” from Orfeo.
    • For the whole opera from a great production in Barcelona, Spain, watch Orfeo.
    • Monteverdi was the great pioneer of what we call opera today. The song title, Tu se’ morta, means “You are dead.” This selection is a recitativo from the opera Orfeo, written in 1607. The main character, Orpheus, or Orfeo, has just learned of the death of his beloved Eurydice. The story comes from ancient Greek myth and drama.
    • Lyrics with English translation.
  • Antonio Vivaldi: “Spring,” I, from The Four Seasons.
    • This selection is from the first concerto in a set of four concertos related to the theme of the four seasons. Vivaldi composed this in 1723. He also wrote a brief poetic sonnet at the start of this first concerto. Read about the orphanage for young women in Venice that trained and developed very talented female musicians, who were probably the usual performers of this sort of music.
    • Background and lyric translation.

The following musical compositions are mentioned in Chapter 22.

  • Johann Sebastian Bach:
    • “The Well-Tempered Clavier,” Part II, Fugue in D Minor (composed circa 1740).
      • Clavier simply meant any instrument with claves, or keys. In the early 1700s, this could include the harpsichord, the clavichord, or the instrument that would eventually evolve into the modern piano. J. S. Bach (1685–1750) made much use of the clavichord and, eventually, early forms of the piano. The piano was invented by Cristofori in the early 1700s; it was developed as a major advance on the clavichord. Pieces such as “The Well-Tempered Clavier” were probably played mostly on the clavichord by Bach, though he clearly intended it as music for a variety of instruments. Bach’s work here is baroque music at its best.
    • Toccata and Fugue in D Minor.
      • In Chapter 22, the term fugue is defined.


0 replies